Day At The Track
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Perfect weather conditions complimented a good day of harness racing at Warragul on Monday. Seven events produced keen racing - importantly winners came from both the front and rear of the field across the day, defying the usual trend of on-pace runners being suited on the smaller Warragul circuit. Again, fast times were recorded during the day, highlighting the quality of Warragul's renovated circuit. One trainer particularly happy to win on Monday was Warragul boy Michael Hughes, who prepared Illawong Libby to win the Warragul Downtowner Pace. Hughes has only had the four-year-old mare in his Cranbourne stable for two starts. He explained after the race that he had set Illawong Libby for the Warragul event some four weeks ago. He felt Illawong Libby would be suited by the Warragul track, and that proved the case. She led from barrier one, holding off a late challenge by Readyforreign to score narrowly in a deceptive finish. The five owners of Illawong Libby were delighted with their victory, the mare's third from 24 starts. Former Gippsland trainer Graeme Lang also claimed a victory on Monday's card with Maybellina in the Drouin Signs Trotters Handicap. Lisa Miles donned Lang's famous dark blue silks and drove a well judged race behind Maybellina, which grabbed Slancio close to home to win. Husband and wife Andy and Kate Gath collected a double on the day, courtesy of Lagoon Beach and Qtown Rip Roaring - both horses coming home strongly from off the pace in their victories. Leading combination of trainer Jayne Davies and driver Chris Alford have won more races than most at Warragul over the years, and claimed another victory on the day, this time with Baccarat in the Healers Shack Pace. Hoofnit provided the upset of the day in winning the Don Collins Pace - the longest priced winner of the afternoon at around 10/1. After three racedays in the last six weeks, Warragul now has a break before the traditional Traralgon Pacing Cup program on Monday, June 29.    

Harness racing fans can take a step back in time at Easter Sunday's Warragul Cup meeting, by viewing a memorabilia display. An area of items relating to the Warragul Cup will be on display in the undercover area outside the Sponsors Room. And courtesy of the family of the late Gippsland trainer, John Collins, items on display will include race trophies won by the great local pacer of the 1960's, Macaree. Macaree's colours, and original all leather harness, will also be on show along with photographs and scrapbooks. The brilliant pacer, an idol of Melbourne Showgrounds crowds, was only 15 hands high and earned the nickname "The Little Bulldog." The tiny horse was full of courage, winning 56 races including the 1967 Lightning Mile at Harold Park, the Stawell Cup and numerous Melbourne events. He ran in the 1967 Miracle Mile, and also placed second twice in the Kilmore Cup from 48 yards and 60 yards behind. It is fifty years since Macaree won the 1965 Warragul Cup from a 48 yard handicap. It is also sixty years since the first Warragul Cup was held in 1955. John Collins also trained several other smart pacers, including Annastere, the filly who beat the boys to win the 1972 Victoria Derby. It is expected that Annastere's winning sash from the Derby will also be on display. A video screen will show old trotting races from Warragul throughout the day and various rare photos, including the photo finish print from the first Warragul Cup, will be on display. The Warragul club is always keen to hear from people who have items of interest relating to the club that can be copied to add to their collection. Sunday's meeting features the $25,000 Warragul Pacing Bowl Cup, and action kicks off just after Noon. Kyle Galley

Young Trafalgar horsewoman Tamie Frith will be seeking her biggest success in harness racing on Easter Sunday, April 5. Tamie's horse Bettor Biaggi will compete in the rich Ken Miller Memorial Pace event at Warragul, one of the feature races on the traditional Warragul Cup raceday. Bettor Biaggi finished second in a qualifying division of the Miller event at Warragul on Monday, March 23 and will be one of several Gippsland horses to compete in the race. Tamie is involved in trotting as a hobby. Her partner Glenn Hunter will steer Bettor Biaggi in the race.   She has a soft spot for Bettor Biaggi, who has yet to win a race but has finished in the minor placings five times from 13 race starts. Tamie turned an interest in the trotting sport into a hands-on involvement after she competed a certificate course at the Gippsland Harness Racing Training Centre several years ago. One of many graduates of the Centre who have gone on to train their own horses, Tamie has enjoyed previous success both as a trainer and as a reinswoman, and has also gained valuable experience working in local stables. Looking to take some of the family spotlight away from Tamie and Glenn on Easter Sunday will be Glenn's father Chris, who has Feel The Rhythm running in the Ken Miller race. Chris will also start his smart horse Dawn Tears in the Trotters Cup event. The Hunter stable is racing consistently at present and will hopefully be rewarded with success on the biggest day on the local trotting calendar. Warragul trotting officials are hoping that good weather should draw a crowd of close to 1000 to the Logan Park track for a top day of racing that will kick off at around Noon. Kyle Galley  

Gippsland trained pacer Mister Wickham created his own piece of history at Monday's Warragul harness racing meeting. The Longwarry flyers winning time of 2:08.3 for the 1790 metre distance in the Winning Formula Three-Year-Old Pace equates to a mile rate of 1:55.4 - the fastest rate ever recorded in a race at Warragul. The outstanding time, which would have been unheard of on the small Warragul track before the recent renovations, speaks volumes for the ability of the horse, and the quality of the track and it's preparation. Trainer Lee Evison has prepared some very good quality horses in his 20 years of training, but he rates Mister Wickham as the best horse he has ever trained. And the sky might be the limit for Mister Wickham, bought for big dollars before he began his career last season. After three victories at two, Mister Wickham overcame serious illness to get back to the races - two recent barrier trials wins at Warragul gave trotting followers an inkling that the race on Monday might just produce something special. And indeed it did. Mister Wickham was challenged early by Queen Of Pop, another very good quality Gippsland three-year-old. But at the finish, driver Greg Sugars had Mister Wickham well clear of the field. In an ominous sign for his potential rivals in the upcoming Warragul Guineas on Easter Sunday, Sugars appeared to go easy on Mister Wickham in the closing stages, and there still appears to be improvement in the horse as Monday's race was his first since June last year. The Guineas field on Easter Sunday will be tougher than the one faced on Monday, however Mister Wickham's large group of owners have every reason to be delighted with how their horse has returned to the races. Trafalgar trainer Chris Hunter scored a well overdue maiden win with Lazy Sunday in the Warragul and District Light Harness Club Trotters Handicap. The win was an appropriate one as Hunter is a life member of the Light Harness Club. Lazy Sunday led throughout for win one at start 11 - the mare was first past the post on Warragul Cup day last year but lost the race on protest. Two heats of the annual Ken Miller Memorial series were staged. Former New Zealand horse Kurahaupo Gambler won the first heat - and will probably start favourite in the Final on Easter Sunday. Not Another De Jay won the other heat. Pleasingly, Bettor Biaggi, Feel The Rhythm and Just For Laughs all qualified for West Gippsland stables for a chance at winning the feature event. The mild weather conditions set up fast times all day - first starter Gottashopearly created an impression in winning the Two-Year-Old event and is one to mark down as a horse to watch. Warragul club officials will now focus on their Easter Sunday Cup meeting on April 5, which commemorates sixty years since the first Cup was staged in 1955. Kyle Galley    

There will be plenty of prizemoney and bonuses on offer across the two upcoming Warragul harness racing meetings on Monday, March 23 and Easter Sunday, April 5. The highlight is of course the Easter Sunday meeting, with the Downtowner Warragul Pacing Cup taking centre stage. Worth $25,275, the event is again staged as a mobile start, with Warragul club officials looking forward to a strong field and fast times on their refurbished track. On all races on Warragul Cup day, trainers of the first three placegetters will receive Winning Formula products, and horse feed donated by Hygain. All trainers in each race will also go into a lucky random draw for a sulky dustsheet donated by Hygain. The C2 to C4 pace carries a Victorian Harness Racing Sports Club owners' bonus of $1500 should the winner be a financial member of the Association. Other highlights on the Cup day card include the $10,505 Eddie Evison Memorial Trotters Cup, the Warragul Guineas and a heat of the Vicbred Platinum Mares Championship. Trainers who also support the March 23 meeting will be able to compete in two other feature events which will be decided on Cup day. The Ken Miller Memorial race is for C0 class horses which have won no more than two races. Heats are on March 23 with the $8775 Final on Easter Sunday which also has a trophy and rug to the winning connections. Courtesy of the generous support of the Warragul and District Light Harness Club and Dooza Engineering, a Dooza race sulky will be given away to one lucky trainer who has a starter in the Ken Miller Memorial Final. Each trainer in the Final will receive one ticket in a random draw - so you don't have to win the Final to win the sulky! The draw will take place on course on Easter Sunday. Also on March 23 heats of a C1 pace will be staged into a Final worth $7275 on Easter Sunday. With over $130,000 in stakes given away across the two meetings, the Warragul Harness Racing Club encourages trainers and drivers to experience the smooth ride on the new Warragul Pacing Bowl over the next few weeks.   Kyle Galley

It was the first day of school for students at the Gippsland Harness Racing Training Centre yesterday. Twenty students have enrolled into full-time studies at the facility at the Warragul harness racing track, and a further fourteen will attend on Wednesday's as part of their secondary school studies, known as the VET In Schools program. Centre founder Des Hughes is delighted with the level of interest in the Centre over recent years, but in particular for 2015. "We're still getting enrolments and enquiries. We don't know where it will end up," Hughes explained. "There are a lot of first timers, but they all have an interest in horses." With the financial support of Harness Racing Victoria, who have provided funding to assist with the purchase of horses, there are now more opportunities than ever for students to experience hands-on involvement with horses. "The hands on aspect is very busy here at the moment," Hughes said. "The HRV contribution has certainly helped us get a few more horses, and their help is much appreciated." As well as from the immediate Warragul area, students are also coming to the Centre from areas closer to Melbourne such as Pakenham and Croydon, as well as areas such as Traralgon and Stratford in the Latrobe Valley/East Gippsland region, where harness racing hasn't been held for some two decades. Students at the Gippsland Harness Training Centre learn all aspects of horse training and driving, as well as animal welfare, and personal development, all keys to embarking on a successful career in the racing or equine industries. The friendships and connections made and life skills learnt by students are also invaluable for their day-to-day lives. The Centre's courses are in their nineteenth year and are co-ordinated by the Warragul based educational provider, Community College Gippsland. The Gippsland Harness Training Centre and its achievements are a good news story for the trotting sport.   Kyle Galley

Gippsland horsewoman Kylee Paull is after a unique trotting double later this week. On Friday night, Kylee competes in the "saddle trot" race at Melton, where trotters are ridden from the saddle instead of being driven from the cart. This aspect of the trotting caper, referred to as Monte racing, is still finding it's way in Australia but is immensely popular in Europe. Kylee is a qualified Monte rider and will take on six rivals, mostly women, in the Monte event when riding Telern Tiger for trainer Clem Stanaway. On Saturday night, Kylee will harness up her trotter I See Icy Earl in the feature Bill Collins Trotters Mile at Cranbourne. The Group One race carries prizemoney of over $50,000 and Kylee and driver Vin Langdon have I See Icy Earl racing in great form at present, with some recent placings in strong races and a good barrier draw giving connections some chance of victory on Saturday night. Kylee came through the Gippsland Harness Training Centre and now trains from Carrum Downs. Along with her father John, Kylee bred the quality trotter, whose feature race victories include the Redwood Classic at age two. Saturday night's race honours the memory of Trafalgar born Bill Collins, who enjoyed a lengthy career as one of Australia's most respected race callers, while also achieving great success in television as co compere of fondly remembered programs such as World of Sport, Penthouse Club and Sunnyside Up. Pearcedale trotter Stoned I Am will also be chasing a win in the major trotting race for Bill and Simone Walker.   Kyle Galley

Former VFL footballer Ricky McLean and his family took the harness racing honours when Broadway Classic won the first race on the new Warragul Pacing Bowl last Monday afternoon. A well known figure in harness racing over many years, McLean and his family own the seven-year-old gelding which led throughout in a fast mile rate of 1:58.9 one second outside the horse's previous best time on the much larger 1400 metre track at Menangle in Sydney, which indicates the quality of Warragul's refurbished course. Ricky, who played football for Carlton and Richmond in the 1970's, trained horses for some years but now his son Shannon prepares the family stable from their Gisborne property. Warragul property developer John Castle presented Ricky with a commemorative trophy after the event. Most races on the day were won by leaders, though this may be a reflection of the smaller fields and style of racing rather than the track itself. Most leaders were allowed to race along unchallenged in front in their events. Top reinsman Chris Alford showed what the new Warragul track is capable of in the last event, however, when he bought Balletto home with a fast finishing run to claim Stoned Again, which had led and stolen a break on the field turning for home. Balletto defied the trend of leaders and proved that if a horse is put into the race at the right time, they still can come from back in the field on the smaller track. Grande Anse and Jodis Choice were two impressive winners earlier in the day. Both horses showed improvement on their recent runs and should win further races. Local pacer Melton Little Max scored his eleventh win at start 211 for trainer Allan Preston and driver Tony Mallia in the sixth event. A much larger crowd than usual attended the meeting and witnessed Warragul Harness Racing Club life member Don Collins cut the ribbon to open the track before race one. Collins, in his 90's, part owned the brilliant Inter Dominion winning pacer Golden Reign in the 1990's. Important guests included the engineers and track design team responsible for the upgraded facility, along with re-elected Narracan MP Gary Blackwood, and Harness Racing Victoria Chairman Ken Latta and CEO John Anderson. Drivers praised the rebuild works and new surface, which was turned out in excellent condition by the track maintenance staff. Warragul races again on Monday afternoon, January 12.   Kyle Galley

Although field sizes are small in some races, there are eight events for the return of harness racing at Warragul today. Warragul Harness Racing Club will celebrate the reopening of their refurbished track, and the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the Club in 1939. The ribbon will be cut to open the track just after 1pm, with the first race due to start at 1:28pm. Among the Gippsland-trained horses competing are stablemates Sammy Seelster and Dreaming Mary in the three-year-old event. There are some even races across the rest of the day, with the fifth shaping as a good contest. Visiting horses Blitz Suzy and Broadway Playboy are the leading fancies in the seven horse field, with Longwarry pacer Mediation a rough hope if things go his way. A strong contingent of local horses will take to the track in the Trotters’ Handicap, which will be run as the final event. Admission to the course is free to enable trotting followers to share in this major occasion in the history of the Warragul club. - KYLE GALLEY

After almost a decade of discussion, Warragul’s harness racing track will finally be given an upgrade. At a cost of more than $400,000, the circuit will undergo a redevelopment as opposed to the desired reconstruction. Basically, the existing 835-metre track will be “overhauled” instead of being expanded to the Victoria’s ‘preferred standard’ 1000 metres. The club, Harness Racing Victoria and Victorian Government will contribute to the $434,000 price tag. Although the track will remain the same in circumference, the camber on the turns will be increased to match “current industry requirements relating to animal welfare and competitor safety” according to club secretary Kyle Galley. The camber on the bends will rise from eight to 12-and-a-half per cent, while in the straights will double from two to four per cent. As part of the work, the surface will also be replaced, ensuring a safe all-weather foundation. Contractors will begin work on Monday, with the reconstruction expected to take six weeks, meaning the club is hoping to hold test trials on November 22. “While the finished product will look slightly different to the current track, the real changes will occur as far as safety and comfort for competing horses,” Galley declared. “A good cushion of track surface material, increased cambers, and ensuring the straights connect smoothly with the bends, reduces the pressure on horses’ joints while competing. “Scientific research has proven that horses will run faster and produce better efforts when they are racing under reduced leg stress. “The works and better quality racing surface should also equate to faster race times, and club officials are confident the current records on the track will be bettered when racing recommences on Monday, December 1." Galley stated the club is thrilled to see the works ready to begin given the extended delays associated with the upgrade. “It has been a long road for club to reach the point when the announcement of the successful tender was made,” Galley said. “In 2005 plans were put in place by Harness Racing Victoria to rebuild the track at Warragul to a circumference of 1000 metres, which is the industry preferred size. “Somewhere along the way, racing industry funding was allocated to other projects and Warragul’s thoughts of a new track were lost in the system.” PAUL COURTS

An entertaining card of racing was staged by the Warragul Harness Racing Club on Monday afternoon.   Alan Ryan was awarded Life Membership of the Warragul club at a special presntation. Alan has been involved with the club for around 40 years - he served 15 years as club Treasurer, and has recently retired after 26 years manning the "main gate" at race meetings. He recalled a period when the club raced at night and had eight gatekeepers on the payroll to cope with admitting big crowds and parking dozens of vehicles.   Local horses had some success on Monday, with veteran Iona trainer Des Kelly back in the winners list when Mor Laag led all the way. The horse had performed well in barrier trials at Logan Park recently for driver Vincent Langdon, and some smart bets were landed at the odds of 12/1.   Trafalgar trotter Slancio came from a handicap mark to win the Alf Martin Memorial Trotters Handicap for driver Glenn Hunter and his trainer father Chris.   Melton horseman Lance Justice was back in Victoria after a quick visit to Sydney over the weekend. He landed a double at Warragul with Lots More Art and V C Devil.   Reinsman Chris Alford drove Gonski to victory for owner John McLeish and Clyde trainer Jayne Davies. With a little more luck, Alford could have had a red letter day, as he also drove four minor placegetters on the seven race card.   Gippsland Harness Training Centre graduate Dani Lewis drove the talented Bangholme filly Kiss Kenny to a comfortable victory in the opening race.   Special guests of the club at the meeting on Monday were the National Servicemen's Association for their annual day at the trots.   Racing returns to Warragul on Monday, August 11. By Kylie Galley

A lengthy link to harness racing at Warragul ended with the death of Albert Tatterson, a past President of the Warragul Harness Racing Club, last week at age 95.   The Tatterson family had a long and varied association with the trots at Warragul, going back to Albert's father Ted, who, like his son, also served a stint as club President. Ted Tatterson became the club's second President in 1941, shortly before the club folded owing to World War II.   One of 16 children, Ted Tatterson was starter at Warragul's trots meetings for many years, and after again becoming a committeeman when the club reformed in 1946, he was awarded with Life Membership in 1957.   Albert Tatterson inherited his father's enthusiasm for trotting, joining the Warragul committee in 1960, and served until 1982, at which time he was awarded Life Membership of the club. Having served two seasons as Vice-President, Albert became President of the Warragul and District Trotting Club in February 1980, when Bob McLennan passed away suddenly, and filled the role until the end of that season.   Albert and his wife Nancy were married for 65 years and operated a dry cleaning business in Warragul for many years. Their late son Ian served several years as CEO of the Springvale City Council, and his local government knowledge was critical to the Warragul club in the 1980's when they were negotiating an extension of their racing circuit at the Logan Park complex.   Ian also enjoyed the sport, and his friends and family raced the good horse Reformist, trained by Ross Conway, in the early 1990's.   By Kylie Galley

The first harness racing mobile start Warragul Cup was a great success on Easter Sunday. Ballarat horseman Michael Stanley took out The Linc Group Warragul Pacing Cup with Hilltop Hustler, a four-year-old who had no luck in the Mildura Pacing Cup at its previous run, but is an up-and-coming pacer of the future, and will be aimed at further feature races going forward. Hilltop Hustler has recorded 10 wins and 8 placings from only 35 starts, and was well supported by punters. The Cup for Trafalgar horseman Glenn Hunter was over soon after it started, as Astronaut galloped and virtually took no part. It capped an up and down day for Glenn - he placed third in the Trotters Cup with Dawn Tears but earlier lost the opening race in the stewards room after debutante Lazy Sunday drifted in in the home straight when first past the post. Runner up in the Cup was Loveable Larrikin, with Savesomtimetodream finishing third. The 2:00 mile rate barrier was broken for the 2620 metre distance, indicating the quality of the Warragul track. The co-feature on Sunday, the Eddie Evison Memorial Trotters Cup, was won by Eisenhower for Kilmore husband and wife team Peter Lane and Anita Burke. In another exciting contest, Eisenhower held off his rivals to score narrowly from Im Whitney, with local Dawn Tears having no luck in finishing a close up third. Four generations of the Evison family were on hand to present the silver Cup to the winning connections. Longwarry pacer Intergalactic took out the final race of the day for trainer Lee Evison and driver Josh Duggan. A large group of happy owners were on hand to accept the trophy after Melita Bromac won the Warragul Club and Downtowner Guineas. Melita Bromac will head for the rich Victorian Oaks series after her Warragul win. A good crowd enjoyed an exciting day of racing on Sunday, with TAB betting up considerably on last year. Footballer's 'Crackers' Keenan and Peter Daicos and legendary trotting horseman Ted Demmler were among the special guests on the day. The quality of the field in the Pacing Cup supported the Warragul Harness Racing Club's decision to switch the event from a handicap to a mobile barrier start. Last year's Miracle Mile winner Baby Bling was among the entries, a winner of over $800,000 in stakes, and horses of that calibre gracing the local track gave the club extra publicity. Kyle Galley

History will be created when the annual Warragul Pacing Cup is conducted at Easter. For the first time, Warragul's main trots race of the year will be started from behind the mobile barrier, replacing the standing start, handicap event which has existed since the first staging in 1955.   It is a bold move for the Warragul Harness Racing Club, and one that will hopefully pay dividends. On a smaller size track such as the one at Warragul, a mobile barrier start will ensure a competitive, and keen race, especially for vital early positions.   Warragul is traditionally one of the fastest of the smaller circumference tracks in Victoria, and a quick race time could eventuate if the speed is on throughout the 2620-metre event. The race will be held on Easter Sunday afternoon, April 20, and again carries a $25,000 stake.   The feature event will be supported by the $10,000 Eddie Evison Memorial Trotters Cup, and a strong undercard which includes a $10,000 heat of the statewide Vicbred Mares Championship series, and the $7000 Warragul Guineas for three-year-old horses.   Additionally, locally based feed manufacturer Hygain is getting behind the Cup Day program - Hygain product will be presented to the trainer of each placegetter in each race on the day.   The Warragul club is also excited that Keysborough based company The Linc Group has joined as naming rights sponsor for the Pacing Cup.   By Kylie Gallery   The Linc Group, led by company boss Craig Roylance, is the leading supplier of metal roofing and scaffolding in Victoria.   A family run business, The Linc Group works with a range of clients, from individual home owners through to multi unit developers.   Keen racing followers, staff of The Linc Group are excited about their involvement with the Warragul Cup, having been a sponsor of the club on a smaller scale in previous years.   As well as the exciting announcements regarding the race and its sponsor for this year, the Warragul club is busy working on the attractions for spectators which will compliment the on-track action.   Football legend Tom Hafey will return this year, and the club will soon announce another VFL/AFL legend who will also be trackside on Easter Sunday.

Eight races will be staged at the first Warragul trots program for 2014, on this Friday afternoon. A later start time of 2:22pm, with the last race at 6:37pm, designed for patrons to be able to attend after work and enjoy the warm evening.   Patrons can potentially share in a $2000 cash prize for successfully picking the last five winners on the Warragul program.   First race of this contest is race four which kicks off at 4:13pm. Patrons must fill in the free coupon available on track, and the prize will be shared in the event of multiple winners. A bumper card of racing includes two qualifying heats of the Ken Miller Memorial Series for maiden pacers.   First five over the line will book a spot in the $8000 Final at the next Warragul meeting on Monday, February 10.   The three-year-old pace will be run across two divisions as well due to a large amount of entries received.   And a capacity field of 12 will line up in the Trotters Handicap, where local horses Arcupandgo, Zoes Dream, Rhondas Idol, Drop Of Paradise and Dawn Tears will also be chasing a victory.   A free admission coupon for Friday's race meeting can be obtained by visiting the Warragul Harness Racing Club Facebook page.   By Kyle Galley

A $2000 cash prize that just can't seem to be won is again on offer at the Warragul harness racing meeting next Friday, January 31. The money has been put up for grabs by the Warragul Harness Racing Club at each race meeting for the last two years, for a lucky patron that can select the winners of the last five local races. So far, the prize has not been won. Some punters have come close, but nobody has achieved the five correct selections. In the event of more than one entrant selecting the five winners, the prize will be split accordingly. It is as simple as attending the raceday, filling in an entry coupon and placing it in the dedicated barrel.   There is no cost to enter the contest. Racing on Friday commences at the later time of 2:20pm, with the last race just after 6:30pm, which will give people the opportunity of attending the races after work. A follow up raceday will also be staged on Monday, February 10.   Kyle Galley    

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